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The House voted Monday to declare "Juneteenth" marking when the last slaves were set free at the end of the Civil War an official state observance.
It voted 63-0 to approve HB338, and sent it to the Senate. It would make Utah the 43rd state to officially celebrate the third Saturday in June as Juneteenth.
It would join a list of other state commemoration dates including Bill of Rights Day (Dec. 15), Constitution Day (Sept. 17), Utah State Flag Day (March 9) and POW/MIA Recognition Day (third Friday in September).
Rep. Sandra Hollins, D-Salt Lake City, the only African American member of the House, is sponsoring the bill. She noted that Juneteenth has been celebrated informally for at least 75 years in Utah, with a statewide ceremony organized for 26 years.
"This observance has come to celebrate President Abraham Lincoln's bold move to take a stand against slavery, an act that all Americans should celebrate," she said told the House. "It celebrates the freedom that we all enjoy as Americans."